Sex, politics and empire

A postcolonial geography

By Richard Phillips

Sex, politics and empire


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7006-8
  • Pages: 264
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: February 2006
  • BIC Category: Humanities / Colonialism & imperialism, Sexual Behaviour, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Sexuality (see also PSYCHOLOGY / Human Sexuality), Colonialism & imperialism, European history, United Kingdom, Great Britain, History, Modern History
  • Series: Studies in Imperialism


Colonial governments, institutions and companies recognised that in many ways the effective operation of the Empire depended upon sexual arrangements. For example, nuclear families serving agricultural colonization, and prostitutes working for single men who powered armies and plantations, mines and bureaucracies. For this reason they devised elaborate systems of sexual governance, such as attending to marriage and the family. However, they also devoted disproportionate energy to marking and policing the sexual margins.

In Sex, Politics and Empire, Richard Phillips investigates controversies surrounding prostitution, homosexuality and the age of consent in the British Empire, and revolutionises our notions about the importance of sex as a nexus of imperial power relations.


Introduction: Mapping the tyranny
1. Spreading political knowledge: English newspapers, correspondents, travellers
2. Provincialising European sexuality politics: the age of consent in India
3. Colonial departures: Australian activists on the age of consent and prostitution
4. Heterogeneous imperialism: deciding against regulation in West Africa
5. Generative margins: introducing a stronger form of regulation in Bombay
6. Drawing distinctions: Richard Burton's interventions on sex between men
7. Experimental and creative places: Creole interventions in Sierra Leone
Conclusion: Fields of understanding and political action


Richard Phillips is a Senior Lecturer in Geography at the University of Liverpool

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